Baldock petition set to be approved by the clerk
I have been advised that Larry Baldock has submitted the question, "should Citizens Initiated Referenda seeking to amend or repeal a law be binding", to the clerk, who has indicated that it will be approved for a petition. Should the petition be successful and a referenda is called on the question as currently worded we would have wasted up to $18m on referenda for no substantial gain. If the votes go the way Baldock wants them to, and the Government agrees, any referenda to change or amend any law will be binding even if only 5 percent of registered voters take part - that's hardly a mandate. Yet referenda seeking to create a new laws won't be binding.
Consequently, this means, hypothetically, that that if a successful referendum was sought on "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand", under such a law, the Government can simply repeal or amend the law how it wants to, because the question does not specifically direct how the Government should amend or repeal the law. It merely has to ensure that only smacks as part of "good" parental correction have to be addressed by an amendment or repeal of the law .
Meaning the term "correction" in the act can merely be amended to "correction that is not part of good correction", or similar wording.. And who decides what is "good", and if it is part of correction? Because, under this scenario, if a smack it is not part - even a minor part - of correction - it will still be a criminal offence as currently. And only "good" correction that is reasonable would be illegal.
Another example raised by the Beretta blog. Imagine living in Germany, where home schooling families are treated like criminals, parents are imprisoned and children removed from the household if they were schooled from home. If the majority in a referendum - say 2.6 percent of the voting population in a 5 percent vote - supported an amendment of existing education law, cementing the right of authorities to immediately and permanently remove children from families suspected of homeschooling, should the state be bound to obey?
Although I support the motives behind this approach - to have the government adhere to the wishes of the people in certain circumstances - the petition question needs to be reworded to achieve the aim of the petitioner, I would have thought. Or perhaps the aim of this petition is merely publicity for the petitioner, not legislative change.